A recent series of books has received some positive attention in recent months for the sane and wholesome approach to discipleship and faith. Authored by James Bryan Smith, the Apprentice Series seeks to present a well-rounded curriculum to promote spiritual growth. You can find a link to the series here.
As a founding member of Richard Foster’s Renovare initiative, Smith is deeply connected to Foster’s life and influence as well as with Dallas Willard. Both Willard and Foster are recognized as thoughtful leaders and writers in area of spiritual disciplines and growth. But what makes Smith compelling is the simple and engaging way he takes important ideas and brings them to bear on human experience.
In the first book in the series, The Good and Beautiful God, Smith takes us deeply into the nature of God–no simple topic. However, Smith’s warm style ushers the reader into the remarkable vistas of theology seamlessly. And here is the important thing. Once there Smith brings these theological truths to bear on life, our life, with great concreteness. The result is wondrous. As a reader, you find yourself being drawn into an eye-opening moment of recognition and change.
To make clear that the purpose of these books is on the deepening practice of Christian faith, each chapter concludes with a series of exercises for the reader to do as a way of making real what has been presented. And here we again see Smith’s creativity. The exercises that are offered are often quite deceptively simple or basic. The temptation may be to slip into a Naaman complex and cry out that the Jordan River is too small and muddy for me! But that again is part of what Smith is addressing. We sometimes make being a disciple of Jesus too complex–perhaps in an effort to avoid facing the truth of what really needs to change in our lives!
If you are looking for some good reading this summer that graciously informs your relationship with God, I highly recommend the Apprentice Series!